Cisco Systems is not only ambitious about boosting its channel revenues, it has assumed an education role to challenge one of the channel's darkest fears -- telecommunications.
The fierce channel advocate announced last week it has entered a deal with Cable & Wireless Optus to develop and distribute a comprehensive range of eCommerce and Internet "Solution Sets" for the small and medium enterprise (SME) market.
The 12-month agreement will see around 3000 Tier-2 Cisco resellers distribute Cable & Wireless Optus eSolution products with Cisco's Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) routers. The solution packages are expected to be available by November.
It is also particularly significant as it represents the first time a large communications carrier has engaged resellers as its primary channel to market for solutions, the companies claim.
Liz Lawson, Cisco's newly appointed regional manager, national channels/ SMB (see page 18), said the deal is partly motivated by the need to educate resellers about telcos.
"Resellers see the telcos as the enemy," she said. "Optus is taking a stake in the ground." Realistically, around 1000 resellers will be actively involved in the deal, which Lawson argues will add value to their businesses.
"It gives us an opportunity to go out and train the channel on a value-add solution," she said. "It puts more value into the channel and into margins."
The two companies announced a joint commitment to market the solutions and conduct reseller training, which includes ongoing product and sales training.
Kurt Hansen, general manager of Cisco Australia's Telecommunications and Service Provider Line of Business, said the vendor plans to work with Cable & Wireless Optus and its distributors to streamline the distribution and integration of the solutions.
John Filmer, director of enterprise, Cable & Wireless Optus, said in a press statement that he believes the deal will benefit both companies.
"This deal is an important element of our ongoing e-commerce strategy because it provides Cable & Wireless Optus with a very powerful channel into the SME market," he said.
The networking and eCommerce Solution Sets are designed to allow SMEs to communicate more effectively with suppliers and customers and to streamline administration and business processes. For example, a reseller might offer a business customer access to the Internet via the Optus backbone using Cisco routers.
Cisco and Cable & Wireless Optus are currently developing a Web site to manage the interaction between themselves, customers, resellers and distributors.